HC Deb 06 November 1968 vol 772 cc875-6
24. Mr. Judd

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the present rate of British exports to, and investments in, South Africa, the Portuguese territories of Africa and the rest of the continent of Africa.

Mr. Crosland

Comparing the first nine months of this year with the same period last year, United Kingdom exports fell by 3 per cent. to South Africa, and rose by 34 per cent. to the Portuguese Territories and 9 per cent. to the rest of Africa. There has, however, been a marked increase in exports in recent months, and in the third quarter exports to South Africa were 11½ per cent. higher and to the rest of Africa 24 per cent. higher than in the same period last year. The latest figures for private direct investment relate to the year 1966 when, compared with 1965, investment fell by 22 per cent. in South Africa, 33 per cent. in the Portuguese Territories and 35 per cent. in the rest of Africa.

Mr. Judd

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that we must continue to lock closely at our economic relations with Africa, thinking, first, in terms of principle and of our rejection of economic and racialist exploitation and, secondly, in terms of enlightened economic self-interest, and that we should therefore take opportunities in the main part of Africa which at present are being seized by so many of our industrial competitors?

Mr. Crosland

The figures I quoted of exports to the rest of Africa will, I hope, reassure my hon. Friend that a considerable effort is going into increasing them. We must bear in mind what he said in the earlier part of his supplementary question, but if I took the view that we should not trade with any country of whose Government I politically disapproved we should have very few trading partners in the world.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why the figures are so much out of date? Was it not one of the Budget measures to encourage investment in under-developed countries and discourage it in developed countries? If we are always two years behind in cur figures, is it not difficult to measure the success or failure of such Budget undertakings?

Mr. Crosland

These figures come from another Department and I should like to look into the point put by the hon. Gentleman and write to him.